King Essentials


An evidence-tested cash transfer approach delivers timely relief during a crisis

Priority Investment Category(s)

Agriculture and Food Security



The Challenge

Amid a major humanitarian crisis, supply chain disruptions and inadequate infrastructure can impede traditional relief operations. In countries like Liberia, where large numbers of those impacted by poverty live in remote areas, efforts to deliver food and other supplies to affected populations are often undermined by a lack of speed and flexibility.

The Approach

GiveDirectly delivers no-strings-attached digital cash transfers to low-income people in developing countries. Cash transfers allow recipients to allot resources to priorities that they choose, such as buying food, paying school fees, and investing in their homes or businesses. By providing support via mobile devices, GiveDirectly reduces the friction and complexity that hobble many global development initiatives.

Why We Invest

GiveDirectly stands out for its commitment to the rigorous and transparent evaluation of its interventions. Since its founding in 2008, GiveDirectly has worked to grow the evidence base for when and how cash transfers can achieve significant impact. To date, it has launched more than a dozen randomized controlled trials. These evaluation efforts not only inform the organization’s own work but also contribute to a broad understanding of key public policy issues—from the impact of universal basic income to the spillover effects of cash transfers on local economies.

GiveDirectly has helped to expand the use of cash transfers as a benchmarking tool. By conducting evaluations that compare the impact of cash transfer programs with the impact of traditional development programs, the organization is helping to identify the most effective interventions in the field of global poverty alleviation. By publicly sharing the results of these evaluations, moreover, GiveDirectly is influencing the allocation of funds to programs in that field.

GiveDirectly also displays a high level of operational efficiency: It distributes 88% of all donated funds to poor families in the form of immediately usable cash. While a low overhead ratio is not the only (or best) measure of organizational success, the efficiency of cash transfers is a key feature of the GiveDirectly model.

Members of a household in Liberia who used cash from GiveDirectly to buy inventory for their dry-goods shop stand proudly in front of the shop.

Photo: GiveDirectly

How We Partner

Funding from King Philanthropies supports an emergency effort by GiveDirectly to provide direct cash transfers to people in Liberia affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic has caused many poor Liberians to suffer disruption to their livelihoods while also causing food costs to rise. Cash transfers offset lost income and enable families to overcome food insecurity. In addition, transfers give recipients the economic security that they need to maintain social distancing practices in response to the pandemic.

GiveDirectly is able to multiply the impact of its King Philanthropies grant through matching funds provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Find Out More

Give Directly

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